is it okay to change the tenses in this particular paragraph?

1

I would like to thank you for your thoughtfulness in thinking of our family with your lovely dinner. Although we haven't eaten the chicken pot pie yet, we all know how delicious that will be! We have, however, enjoyed the pie all week long.

asked Apr 09 '12 at 20:38 Becky Youngblood New member

yes. the second pie was chocolate. thank you for your help, Holly!!

Becky YoungbloodApr 10 '12 at 00:15

My pleasure! (Also: yum!)

Actually HollyApr 10 '12 at 15:47

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4 answers


3

Your tenses look perfect! There's room for improvement in a couple of other spots, though:

 

- "thoughtfulness" next to "thinking" is a little awkward/redundant.

- "pie" after "chicken pot pie" is confusing, since you're not referring to the same item.

 

Here's a revision (taking a guess at the second pie):

 

I would like to thank you for your thoughtfulness in sending our family such a lovely dinner. Although we haven't eaten the chicken pot pie yet, we all know how delicious that will be! We have, however, enjoyed the apple pie all week long.

link comment answered Apr 09 '12 at 21:07 Actually Holly Expert
2

Yes, changing verb tense within a paragraph is acceptable, if not mandatory when discussing the past, present, and future in the same paragraph.  The trick is to make sure the "order of things" makes logical sense. Sometimes, as in your paragraph, that means being careful to select words that do not confuse the reader.

 

In your paragraph, you first talk about a chicken pot pie that you have not eated but will in the future. The you talk about a pie (presumably a different pie) that you ate in the past. Because the second pie is ambiguous -- it could be the chicken pot pie -- the switch in tense reads "funny". This can be fixed by describing the second pie as clearly different. An "apple pie" or a "cherry pie".

 

If the second pie is indeed the chicken pot pie not yet eaten, then your change in verb tense is wrong.

 

Also, "it will be" or "that it will be" is generally preferred to "that will be."

link comment answered Apr 09 '12 at 21:13 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow
0

I'm afraid you'll have to rephrase it.

First, "thinking of our family with your lovely dinner"  - doesn't that sound a little odd?

Second, if you haven't eaten the pie, how can you have been enjoying it all week long?

link comment answered Apr 09 '12 at 21:09 A Clil To Climb Contributor
-1

OK, someone downvoted me, no big deal. I don't care much for the votes. The reason why I wrote what I wrote is to get the person asking the question to think.

Only by thinking yourself the reason why something isn't right will you improve.

link answered Apr 09 '12 at 21:18 A Clil To Climb Contributor

Not I, but I suspect I know why. I have always found it frustrating when I ask a question, but the answer does not answer the question I asked.

In this case, it sounds like everyone who has answered agrees that rephrasing is necessary to one degree or another. But your answer , while intended to point out some awkward usages and hepp the questioner think about them (hear! hear!), made it seem that you can't change verb tenses in a paragraph.

To avoid possiblle confusion by the student I always try to make it clear that I'm addressing a side issue.

Clil, I look forward to seeing more of your contributions.

Jeff PribylApr 09 '12 at 21:41

Drat, my keyboard needs new batteries. There are way too many stuck and dropped key typos in the above. My apologies.

Jeff PribylApr 09 '12 at 21:42

I didn't downvote you, Clil. But looking at your original answer, it could have perhaps been because you didn't answer the person's question about changing tense. She asked, "Is it okay to change the tense?" and you replied, "You'll have to rephrase it." Someone might have thought you were telling her that she cannot use different tenses.

Patty TApr 09 '12 at 21:48

Haha, so (s)he downvoted me again for giving the reason why I wrote what I wrote. Fine. Whoever it is. Why don't you stand up and be counted and give your reason, eh?

A Clil To ClimbApr 10 '12 at 17:18

Not playing nice, Chiew? ; ) By the way, I didn't downvote you either.

Jody M.Apr 11 '12 at 02:37

Yea, tough s--t. They can downvote me all they want, I'll still speak my mind. They'll have to decide if they want to learn or they just want straight answers.

A Clil To ClimbApr 11 '12 at 10:17

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